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and pentagon officials confirmed it today. the decision marks the next phase in the administration's plan to end the u.s. combat role in afghanistan by 2014. there are currently 66,000 american troops in afghanistan, down from a peak of 100,000. a sharply divided senate armed services committee moved today to approve chuck hagel for defense secretary. the party line vote on the former senator was 14-11. his fellow republicans challenged hagel's past statements and votes on israel, iraq and iran's nuclear weapons program, while democrats argued hagel was more than qualified. >> i just believe that the testimony of senator hagel was not reassuring. i don't think he did come across clear and convincing, that he understood our policies toward iran. and the fact that you don't understand why and you can't clearly articulate the bad news for america for the iranians' nuclear capability sharply and to the point is unnerving and for the times in which we live. >> the concern that i have is the suggestion that this man who has served his country really since he was a young man and enlisted in viet
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